My niece wrote this article about our adoption journey; and when I saw this template, I was inspired to scrap it. My niece is an amazing journalist, but I am not quite as wonderful as she makes me out to be. After reading this, I tell my friends they should refer to me as Saint Debbie(:

A mega-watt smile, unmatched courage and humility, and gentle strength…the presence of this woman is simply awe-inspiring. Then, she lets out a jubilant belly-laugh followed closely by a distinctive snort all while tripping UP the stairs. This is Debbie Wagner, a woman who fought for love, a woman who loves beyond measure.
Five years ago, at age 48, Debbie Wagner had one child; today, she has hundreds. She is the mother of the “forgotten children of Russia”—the children without a family, without a future, without love.
She began her journey five years ago when she discovered a program to bring a Russian child to America to spend Christmas with a family. Debbie went straight home and charged the credit card, all without consulting her husband. While watching a video of the children at the orphanage, she saw him, the last child on the video, and burst into tears. “I knew he was my son—it was that simple. He was my son,” she said.
After three weeks of constant bickering and long talks into the night with her husband, she had one last hope. Debbie showed him the same video. He held an austere expression throughout; she turned to her tough-guy when the same boy came onto the screen and saw him begin to cry. She sprang up and started dancing around the room, hysterically laughing and sobbing. “You might have thought I was insane…I think I was!” she said.
What was even stranger than her husband’s agreement to this Christmas program, was that he wanted to start the adoption process right then and there. So began the long, grueling process: background checks, letters, appeals, paperwork, meetings, fingerprinting and court dates. But none of that mattered; she needed her son, and he needed her.
Debbie worried about her (biological) son Alex and how he might react to the boy, Dima; he was not keen on the idea of sharing the love and attention. The long-awaited Christmas night arrived, and they went to the airport to pick up their future son. The family saw their tiny, tiny eight-year-old boy coming towards them. Then, pure magic. Alex sprinted across the terminal, wrapped his arms around the tiny boy and shouted, “My brother!” Debbie and her husband rushed over to their sons, wildly sobbing and laughing. “There are no words to describe how incredible it was… Alex’s birth was incredible, but this was different. This was a miracle,” she said.
Exhausted and emotionally overloaded, the family returned home. Debbie put the boys to bed, each in their own bunk. When she returned to check on them later that night, she found the boys together, holding each other tightly as they slept.
The Christmas program ended, and it came time for Dima to return to Russia when they found out that there was a moratorium on adoptions in Russia. Debbie was devastated, and frankly, went a little crazy. She stopped sleeping, researched ceaselessly and called everyone she thought could help. She was willing to fight the former Soviet Union or anyone that stood in her way. “I was not going to let anyone stop me from bringing my son home. I did everything I could think of and became quite assertive and aggressive (so not me)” she said.
After months of waiting, Debbie finally got the call. They wanted her to be in Bryansk in five days, and after three days of traveling alone, she was reunited with her son. Debbie stayed in an orphanage apartment, and for the next three days, had 20 children in her tiny room morning till night. “This was the beginning of my love affair with the children of Zhukovka,” she said.
“The kids were starved for attention,” she said, “They hung on my every word even though they couldn’t understand any English except


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